Imagine hearing loss and the majority of people picture an older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Having an effect on more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has risen dramatically amongst all age groups. Startling repercussions result from not getting it treated. These four by themselves make it worth having your hearing tested.
1. Mental Decline
Hearing is a sense that you may not associate with other health issues but there is a connection. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Some conditions commonly connected to aging are in fact caused by hearing loss.
The brain’s natural ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when hearing is normal. It’s that mechanism of hearing that allows you to identify the difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it goes down your street.
Even if you don’t notice it, the brain experiences sound every microsecond. There is still ambient sound around you even if you are relaxing in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to know about, so you don’t even notice it.
The brain comes to count on this stimulus. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is loss of hearing. Thinking the missing sound should still be there, it strains to find it. Your risk of dementia is increased because the absence of stimuli leads to cognitive decline due to increased stress on the brain. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. Even more compelling, people who suffer from hearing loss that get treatment such as hearings aids have been shown to enhance cognitive ability.
2. Stomach Problems
That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. The changes you experience because of hearing loss have been connected to side effects like:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The constant strain can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
More serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will happen as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
Probably, the most apparent side effect is the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to an increase in depression in adults under the age of 70.
The study published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery found people with untreated hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others and that most likely is the reason for the depression. The research shows that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, the untreated hearing loss has been connected to many mental health problems including:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate successfully and that leads to depression and psychological anxiety.
4. Troubled Relationships
The side effects of hearing loss invade more than your physical and mental health. Statistically, people make less money if they have hearing loss. A 2007 study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute found individuals with untreated hearing loss make on average 20,000 dollars less a year than their hearing colleagues.
Hearing loss brings about problems in personal relationships, as well. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Thirty-seven percent of women surveyed reported getting irritated when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
- Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
Hearing loss impacts your health, your self-esteem, as well as your relationships. The good news is many of these side effects disappear or lesson when you get help like hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what option works best for you.